Too often, we associate Lent with negative images that involve, in different ways, giving up something. Meanwhile, most of us have a hard time wanting to give up anything.
I encourage you to live this Lent in a manner that may be different than what you have done before:
- Take the first two weeks of Lent (Feb. 14-28) to think about the love God has for you. Read carefully, slowly, the Gospel of John, Chapters 14-17. I urge you, if you can, to read those four chapters out loud in some quiet space. (Receiving the Word through two senses—sight and hearing—helps the truth penetrate our hearts.)
- Take the second two-week period of Lent (March 1-14) to look at the Gospel of Matthew and read aloud Chapters 25 and 26.
- Take roughly the last two weeks, from March 15-24, to read the Gospel of Mark, Chapters 14 and 15.
- In the last week—Holy Week—pay attention to the selected readings for the Mass of the Day.
One major step that can help you receive the Word of God and know God’s presence more than ever before is this: Consider putting some restrictions on yourself regarding your use of cell phones and other media devices during Lent. If you want a genuine personal relationship with God, you need time to be still and listen to God as He speaks to you in the Scriptures. Remember, His Word is “living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword” (Heb 4:12). His Word convicts, counsels, and consoles. Give God room to move in your life and heart this Lent!
As you read each of these Scripture passages, pause and ask yourself how God is showing His Love for you! Remember, He did not die for crowds of people—He died for you. In His living Word, God wants to touch your heart with the realization that when He died on that cross, He already knew you. He wanted to obey the Father that you might be with Him forever. You were on His mind when He died on that cross, though you had not yet been created. (With God there are no time limits; God has no limits).
Ask God for the grace to receive and accept His love for you! Ask God to give you the grace to renew your promises to Him or to make your personal commitment to follow Him for the first time. Talk to Him about wanting to be more His son or daughter. Talk to Him about wanting to thank Him for all He has done for you. Tell Him you want to follow Him more closely. Ask Him to help you make a decision or two that will assist you in living out your relationship with God as both your Father and Savior.
Remember God hears every word of every prayer you pray—of every word you speak. Give Him your mind and your heart and ask Him to lead you in the ways He wants you to go.
If you live Lent this way, and if you make a good confession during Lent, you will come to see, by His grace, how dearly He loves you and wants to walk closely with you from now until eternity.